In 1995, Michigan passed a law that granted immunity to drug manufacturors when their products injured or killed an individual. This was the year that Michigan became the only state in the entire nation to grant this protection. Did other companies whose products injure and kill Michigan Citizens get the same immunity? Remember the Ford Pinto – the car that blew up when it got rear-ended? Remember lead based paint? Remember asbestos based products? All those companies were held responsible for the individuals they blew up and poisoned from exposure to their products.
The legal immunity that Michigan gave the drug industry for dangerous products was recently recognized by our House of Representatives as being completely unfair as it left Michigan citizens without any legal recourse when they were injured or killed by dangerous drugs. Merck – the makers of Vioxx – have recently agreed to pay out $4.8 billion dollars to those they injured when they released a drug on the unsuspecting public that Merck KNEW caused damage to the cardiovascular system of the patient. Will those that have been injured or died here in Michigan take part in any portion of that settlement? The jury is still out on that issue due to the complete immunity that Michigan’s legislators granted the drug companies in 1995.
Michigan citizens had a chance to get the protection from dangerous drugs that every other citizen in every other state enjoys. In early 2007, a bill passed the Michigan House of Representatives that revoked drug company immunity and it was sent to the Michigan Senate for approval. Your senators have tucked that bill away in the deepest recesses of the senate sub-committee structure where they have ensured it will probably never see the light of day.
This isn’t the only bill that has been hidden by Michigan’s senate. New laws to protect us against drunk drivers, to protect infants and minors, to protect those that are mentally incapacitated, and other bills that help the individual citizens of the State, not just the corporate citizens are buried in a senate sub-committe structure to ensure they never see a vote.
Why? Just look at who is funding your particular senator’s campaign was chest: insurance companies, Mi Chamber of Commerce, lobbyists for large Corporations in Michigan and other corporate interest groups. When laws like the 1995 Drug Immunity act were passed, our government told us it was to help Michigan’s economy. In the last 10 years, our state’s legislature and court system has taken away a myriad of individual rights under the pretext of making the state’s business economy stronger.
Has it? As a state, are we better off now than we were 12 years ago? Not even close. We’re last or near last in about every relevant indices that one might use to compare Michigan to the rest of the U.S.
Who has suffered the most? Car accident victims, injured children and mentally incapacitated adults, and other individuals who have been injured due to others negligence. It is ironic that those who need the most protection have been left most vulnerable by our court system and our legislators.
So what can we do? Get educated and vote. Find out how your senator is voting on issues like drug company immunity. Let him or her know that you’re watching how they vote and that you vote too.
To find out who your Representative is, click here -> Representative
To find out who your Senator is, click here -> Senator
To see how your representative/senator is voting on issues that are important to you, click here-> Voting
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Drugs, Medical Devices, and Implants.
Mr. Smith has practiced as a trial attorney since graduating Notre Dame Law School in 1992. He has litigated cases across the country including cases from Ventura County, California to Middlesex County, New Jersey. He practices in both State and Federal courts.